Russia and NATO

Most Russians have a negative attitude towards NATO. The prevailing opinion is that new countries joining NATO poses a threat to Russia. About half of the respondents admit that the conflict in Ukraine may escalate into a clash between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance. A third of respondents admit that in the event of a conflict with the West, Vladimir Putin may give the order to use nuclear weapons first.

7% of respondents have a positive attitude towards NATO, 82% — negatively. Compared to March, the attitude towards the North Atlantic Alliance has slightly deteriorated.

16% of young respondents aged 18-24 have a positive attitude towards NATO. The older respondents, except for the group of 25-39 years, have less than 10% of positive ratings: 6% in the group of 40-54 years, 4% in the group of 55 years and older.

The perception of the threat from the countries of the NATO bloc has returned to the level of March 2014: 60% of respondents believe that the Russian Federation has reason to fear these countries, slightly more than a third (35%) believe that there are no such reasons. At the same time, in November last year, the share of respondents who adhere to these points of view was approximately equal: 48% recognized Russia’s reasons to be afraid of NATO member countries, 44% did not see any.

The share of respondents who believe that NATO member countries have reason to fear Russia has sharply increased: if in November 2021 their share was 36%, then in May this year it was 60%. The current values are the maximum for the entire measurement time.

According to respondents, Ukraine’s joining NATO poses the greatest threat: 52% consider it a “serious threat” and another 19% a “mild threat”. Fewer respondents are concerned about Finland, Georgia or Sweden possibly joining NATO: about a third (30-34%) see this as a “serious threat” and up to a quarter (23-25%) as a “mild threat”.

About half (48%) of respondents believe that the situation in Ukraine could escalate into an armed conflict between Russia and NATO. It should be noted that in the spring of 2016, about 20% of respondents considered such a conflict possible. The greatest confidence in such a development of events today is represented among respondents aged 18-24: 60% believe it is possible. In the groups of 25-39 years and 40-54 years, half of the respondents believe in the likelihood of an armed conflict between NATO and the Russian Federation. Respondents 55 years and older are less likely to consider such a development of events.

About a third of respondents (34%) believe it is likely that Vladimir Putin, in the event of a war with the West, will be the first to give the order to use nuclear weapons: 10% consider it very likely, a quarter (24%) quite possible. 58% of respondents rather exclude such a possibility: 36% think it is unlikely, 22% – that it is completely out of the question. Compared to March 2015, the perception of the potential for such a development of the situation has changed slightly.

29% of respondents (those who rated their anxiety at 1 or 2 points) are not very afraid of the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons, half (those who rated it at 4 and 5 points) – it causes fear. In general, all age groups are dominated by those who are afraid of such an opportunity. Nevertheless, among respondents aged 40-54 and 55 years and older, the proportion (about 30%) of those who are not afraid of it is relatively higher.


The survey by the Levada Center was conducted March 26 – 31 2022, among a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample was comprised of 1634 people aged 18 or older in 137 municipalities of 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The answer distribution is presented as percentages of the total number of participants along with data from previous surveys.

The statistical error of these studies for a sample of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:

3.4% for indicators around 50%

2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%

2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%

1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%

The ANO Levada Center is included in the registry of non-commercial organizations acting as foreign agents.


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